‘We Never Forced Kids To Learn Arabic’- Headmaster Braggs
“The allegations made by Sri Rama Sene when they barged into St Thomas Aided Higher Primary School premises at Bondanthila that the management was forcing the students to learn the Arabic language, we were also teaching the Urdu language, and trying ‘conversion’ is baseless and not true. We had only introduced Karate and Arabic language, that too after getting approval from the parents during a PTA meeting. These allegations made by these activists is just to spoil the name of the school, and disrupt communal harmony in the nearby society”- Melwyn Braggs, Headmaster of St Thomas Aided Higher Primary School
Mangaluru: Melwyn Braggs, the headmaster of St Thomas School in Bondanthila near Neermarga/Mallur addressing the media persons during a press meet held at Mangaluru Press Club clarified about the raid and allegations made by Sri Rama Sena activists when they barged into school premises on July 30 2016, stating that the management was forcing the students to learn Arabic, also Urdu language and that ‘conversion’ was going at the school.
“Never in the history of this school which is 108 years old that such a terrible incident had taken place. I had joined this school in the year 1997 as a teacher, and in the year 2004 became the Headmaster, and to my knowledge never an incident of such kind has taken place during my tenure. When I saw some of the main attackers of SRS who were the locals, also among whom few were former students of this school, I was very much hurt as to how can former students revolt against their school which gave them a good education and discipline. The way they approached towards me was rude and had no respect at all. I know that some parents are still fearful after the incident, but I am confident that the surrounding community and others will stand with us,” said Braggs.
“Regarding the allegations made by the activists that apart from Arabic, even Urdu language was taught, and that conversion was also taking place, which is baseless and not true. This century-old Catholic school has never involved in such kind of activities, and these nonsense allegations are simply to spoil the name of the school and bring disharmony in the locality and nearby areas. The introduction of Karate and Arabic language was implemented only after approval from the parents during a PTA meeting. We have never forced any students to take Arabic class compulsory, those who want to skip these classes are freely welcomed to do so, we have no problem with that. Also that these classes are conducted during non-school hours – for Karate from 9 to 10 am on Friday, and Arabic classes on Saturday from 9 to 10am” said Braggs.
“It was very humiliating that these activists barging into the classes and grabbing the books from the students and showing them off to the media/TV crew for publicity. Among the nearly 40 activists, was the president of SRS Anand Shetty Adyar who was very mean towards me and raised his voice against me. I was very much hurt and quite shivering at that moment. Even the children got scared when all this commotion was going on. Even now the children are nervous and scared, so also the parents who are worried about sending their kids to the school. But we have convinced them and everything is fine at the moment,” added Braggs.
While concluding Melwyn Braggs said “Police personnel make frequent visits to the school and interact with the kids, to make sure everything is okay. We are happy that the Police Commissioner Chandra Sekhar has assured us full support and protection, and also instructed us to continue with the Arabic classes. Not just students and parents, even our teachers are very reluctant to interact with visitors/outsiders. Fear and terror has been created by these activists by storming into our school. Our main intention to start Arabic classes was to benefit our students when they grow up, and look for a job in Gulf countries it would be helpful for them. Also that many companies in the Arab world give first preference to those who know the Arabic language. We have done nothing wrong, in fact, we were being nice to teach our children a new language, which many of them are eagerly and enthusiastically learning it. The main reason for us to have this press meet is just to clarify the false allegations made by SRS activists and baseless news published by a few media/TV firms. We need the support of the media and community in this case”.
Correspondent of the school and Parish Priest of St Antony Church-Fermai- Fr Robert Crasta, John Prakash Pinto, Edward D’Souza and Antony D’Souza , who are the members of the school committee were also present during the meet.